cultural immersion

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I chose to attend a morning service, at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and I was told that Pastor Jeffrey Brown would be speaking that morning. The Union Baptist Church is located at 874 Main Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I arrived about twenty minutes early in an effort to acclimate myself to the surroundings and to try and observe some of the people as they arrived and entered the church.


The contrasts were deliberately sharp and well-defined: I was an international student mingling with American citizens; I was Muslim whereas I chose to attend a Baptist church; I was white whereas much of the congregation was black; and, I was an "outsider" in nearly each and every respect. From a cultural point of view, this was stretching the differences rather tightly.
As an initial matter, I must admit that I was very nervous and a bit uncertain. As I was driving to the church, a million different things went through my mind. I was often hesitant and excited at the same time. I was hesitant because I felt quite awkward attending a religious service so different than my own. I have heard many things about Christianity and I have had many Christian friends; despite this superficial familiarity, I didn't know whether I would be welcome at the church. I wondered whether people might ask me personal questions, such as whether I had been baptized a Christian, and I wondered whether I ought to answer truthfully that I was a Muslim or whether I ought to simply lie and try to be accepted. More confusing was the fact that I didn't really understand the different nuances of the Christian religion. ...
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